In a direct response to the ongoing national opioid crisis, the American Heart Association, the leading voluntary health organization devoted to a world of longer, healthier lives, will provide two courses to educate both lay responders and all levels of clinical healthcare providers and emergency responders on delivering immediate treatment and care for opioid overdose victims. The online courses, Opioid Education for Healthcare Providers and Opioid Education for Non-Clinical Staff and Lay Responders will quickly and effectively teach the public and healthcare professionals about the opioid epidemic and what they can do to help someone who has had an overdose. Both courses are available now online at https://elearning.heart.org/courses

Deaths from opioid overdoses – a direct corollary for respiratory and cardiac arrest in these patients – have reached crisis proportions and created the urgent need for science-based, standardized education. The American Heart Association trains more than 22 million people globally every year by educating healthcare providers, caregivers and the general public on how to respond to cardiac arrest and first aid emergencies.

These new courses for healthcare professionals and bystanders, coupled with the existing resuscitation training from the recognized leader in resuscitation science and training, provides more comprehensive preparation for the general public, healthcare providers and emergency responders.

The self-directed bystander course will discuss the recognition and treatment of opioid overdose including the use of high-quality CPR and reversal agents as appropriate. The healthcare provider course will also provide detailed information about the opioid epidemic, opioid-use disorder, pathophysiology of pain and opioids that lead to addiction, as well as provide an overview of complementary therapies. The course, intended for EMTs, paramedics, nurses, physicians and additional mid-level healthcare providers, will enable providers on the front lines of this medical crisis to improve patient care and save more lives.

“As the provider of resuscitation training for more than 90 percent of U.S. hospitals, the American Heart Association is stepping into this crisis and filling the need in standardized education for healthcare professionals,” said Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., MPH, the Association’s chief medical officer for prevention. “Arming as many people as possible with up-to-date, practical knowledge on what to do – both immediately and as follow up – is imperative to saving lives and improving outcomes.”

In February, the American Heart Association CEO Roundtable, a leadership collaborative of 40-plus members who collectively represent more than 10 million employees and their family members to tackle the biggest workforce health challenges, pledged to tackle the opioid epidemic with a statement calling on workplaces to partner with health care plans, Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) and Employee Assistance Program (EAP) providers to create new policies and solutions, including defining what appropriate use looks like. The development of the opioid education courses echoes the commitment by the Association and the CEO Roundtable.

About the Opioid Crisis
The toll of increasing prescription and illicit opioid abuse, addiction and overdose has devastated communities across the United States and has reached crisis proportions, taking a tragic toll on countless individuals and our society. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse an estimated 115 die daily from respiratory and cardiac distress resulting from an opioid overdose, often attributed to the misuse of prescription pain medication. Meanwhile, approximately 100 million Americans experience pain every day and, for many, this pain interferes with their physical and mental health, work productivity, social interactions and activities of daily living.